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Shah Alam, Selangor, Malaysia: Rookie Joonas Granberg produced a stellar final round of six-under-par 66 to become only the second Finnish player to win on the Asian Tour at the Worldwide Holdings Selangor Masters on Saturday.

Granberg, who set a new course record 62 in the opening round, edged Thai teenager Panupohol Pittayarat by one stroke with his 15-under-par 273 winning total at the Kota Permai Golf and Country Club. The 24-year-old Finn pocketed US$60,902.

Overnight leader Panuphol, 18, underlined his massive potential by taking runner-up spot with a battling 71 while Adam Groom of Australia shared third place with Filipino veteran Antonio Lascuna on 275 in the RM1.2 million (approximately US$400,000) Asian Tour event.

Groom, searching for his first Asian Tour title, was tied on 15-under alongside Granberg with the par five 18th hole to play but four putted on the last green for a disappointing double bogey and a 68.

Sukree Othman of Malaysia provided the local cheers by soaring up the leaderboard with a superb 65 for tied fifth place with Australian Marcus Both (67) and Siddikur of Bangladesh (68) on 276.

“I didn’t think my first win will come so soon. There are so many good players on the Asian Tour and I didn’t play very well in my first four events in Asia. I thought I had a chance for a top-10 or top-five but now, I’m a winner,” said Granberg, who came through Qualifying School in January.

The Finn, who has three wins on his home tour, started the final round four shots off the lead but got off to a flying start with an eagle on his opening hole from 10 feet before turning in 33. He sank birdies on the 11th and 14th holes before pulling off what was eventually the winning birdie at the demanding par three 17th hole.

“The eagle on the first was very good. It relaxed my feeling so much. Then I had a good birdie on the third and I was more relaxed. I just played it one shot at a time. I walked very relaxed and that was my secret. I said yesterday that 66 would be okay and now I’m the winner. It’s amazing,” he said.

“On 17, I hit a five iron with a fade. It was a very tough pin position but I hit it straight at the flag. It ended two and half meters for the birdie. I thought I needed to birdie 18 for a play-off (which he parred). I don’t know what happened to Adam. I was expecting at least a play-off as 18 is a good birdie hole,” added Granberg. 

The promising Panuphol, who turned professional at the age of 14, rued missed chances but believes his finish will spur him on during the second half of the Asian Tour season. “I had my chances but I didn’t take them. The win was there for the taking but I didn’t capitalize on it but overall I’m still happy. I know I can play well at the highest level,” said Panuphol, who is nicknamed “Coconut” by his family. 

Groom was a picture of poise as he surged into contention by moving to six-under for the round through 17 holes, thanks to an eagle on the first and four birdies. After narrowly escaping the hazard with an errant drive on 18, a play-off loomed as he safely hit the green in regulation. But he sent his birdie attempt racing six feet past the cup and agonisingly took three more putts for a seven.

“I played great all day. I was six-under before the last hole and probably played one of my best rounds in a while. I hit a bad tee shot but the positive part was that I was in contention. I made some money and that would put me in good position on the Order of Merit,” said the Australian.

Lascuna, winner of the inaugural Selangor Masters in 2007 when it was a domestic event, birdied the last hole to claim his second top-10 finish this year and felt the achievement was a personal victory in itself. 

“I’m very happy with my result. I didn’t expect to be in contention after the third day and to finish in third place is a tremendous achievement. It was a great week and I enjoyed myself. My performance was solid and I just need to work on my driver,” said the 40-year-old.

Sukree, a former national amateur player, charged up the leaderboard and delighted the crowds with a stunning chip-in birdie on 15 from 30 yards. But a bogey on 16 took the winds off his sail in his title hopes.

“To be honest, I didn’t expect to shoot such a low score but deep in my heart I wanted to do my very best. I think of shooting 62 every time I play but this is a good result. I’m happy to shoot a low score in front on my home crowd,” said the Malaysian.

The day of drama was also highlighted by a stunning albatross from Japanese Ryutaro Nagano. He achieved the Asian Tour’s 16th albatross in history on the par five 12th hole when he holed out from 247 yards with a five wood. It was his career first albatross which helped him secure tied 49th place after a closing 69. 

Scores after round 4 of the Worldwide Holdings Selangor Masters 2011 being played at the par 72, 6977 Yards Kota Permai GCC course (a- denotes amateur)

273 - Joonas GRANBERG (FIN) 62-75-70-66.

274 - Panuphol PITTAYARAT (THA) 71-65-67-71.

275 - Adam GROOM (AUS) 68-73-66-68, Antonio LASCUNA (PHI) 70-69-66-70.

276 - Sukree OTHMAN (MAS) 71-70-70-65, Marcus BOTH (AUS) 70-67-72-67, SIDDIKUR  (BAN) 68-70-70-68.

277 - CHANG Tse-peng (TPE) 72-66-71-68, Tjaart VAN DER WALT (RSA) 65-74-70-68.

278 - MO Joong-kyung (KOR) 67-74-73-64, S. Siva CHANDHRAN (MAS) 72-69-67-70.

279 - LIN Wen-tang (TPE) 68-71-73-67, Nicholas FUNG (MAS) 72-70-66-71.

280 - Chapchai NIRAT (THA) 71-67-74-68, Juvic PAGUNSAN (PHI) 69-72-71-68, Panuwat MUENLEK (THA) 68-69-72-71, Rashid KHAN (IND) 69-71-69-71, Ross BAIN (SCO) 70-71-68-71, Thaworn WIRATCHANT (THA) 71-68-69-72.

Photo - Asian Tour 

Asian Tour 

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